PUMA has continued to focus on six strategic priorities to guide it on its way to become the fastest sports brand in the world. We focus on brand heat, a competitive product range, a leading offer for women, improving our distribution quality and organizational speed as well as leveraging our re-entry into basketball to strengthen our position on the North American market.
For more than 70 years, PUMA has created brand heat by partnering with the greatest athletes: Usain Bolt, Lewis Hamilton, Pelé, Maradona, Tommie Smith, Boris Becker, Linford Christie, Serena Williams, Heike Drechsler and Martina Navratilova, just to name a few. Today, PUMA continues to strengthen its position as a sports brand through partnerships with some of the most elite ambassadors: the Italian national football team, star strikers Antoine Griezmann, Romelu Lukaku, Sergio Agüero and Luis Suarez, top football manager Pep Guardiola, international top clubs Manchester City, Borussia Dortmund, Valencia CF and AC Milan, golf stars Lexi Thompson and Rickie Fowler, the six-time Formula 1 world champion Lewis Hamilton, Norwegian hurdler and world champion Karsten Warholm, Canadian sprinter André De Grasse and the Jamaican and Cuban Olympic Federations. Teaming up with the best athletes, teams and federations is key in keeping PUMA’s brand credibility at high levels.
To connect with young, trend-setting consumers, PUMA also drives brand heat by working with icons of culture and fashion such as Selena Gomez, Cara Delevingne and Adriana Lima. This has made PUMA one of the hottest sports and fashion brands for young consumers.
PUMA aims to design “cool stuff that works” and in 2019, we significantly improved our product offering. Our most important performance footwear styles included the PUMA FUTURE football boot and our running & training shoes based on our LQD CELL and HYBRID technology platforms. In Sportstyle, our bestselling models were the RS-X, CALI and the RALPH SAMPSON. At the end of the year, we launched the RS-X3, CALI SPORT and the RIDER, which is inspired by one of the first jogging shoes launched in the 1980s. With these models, we see ourselves in a good starting position for 2020. In apparel, we saw strong growth across the portfolio, especially from “Big Cat” logo applications and motorsport apparel.
Creating a leading product offer for women remains a priority for PUMA, to capitalize on this growing segment in the global sportswear market. More and more women take up sports worldwide and athletic wear has long made its way into everyday outfits. “Where the gym meets the runway” continues to be the theme for our initiatives in the women´s segment. In 2019, our best-selling sneakers for women were the CALI, DEFY and MUSE.
Returning to basketball, with an approach that resonated well beyond the court, was an important step towards increasing our credibility as a sports brand in North America. With the support of JAY-Z, our Creative Director for basketball, we added the UPROAR and the CLYDE HARDWOOD as new performance shoes to this category in 2019. We added young and highly talented NBA players to our roster such as RJ Barrett (New York Knicks), Kyle Kuzma (Los Angeles Lakers) and Marcus Smart (Boston Celtics). While revenues from basketball performance products are still small, as expected, we are already seeing the benefits of being back on court, as sales of Sportstyle products and other performance categories in the US have picked up. Bringing back the court-style sneaker RALPH SAMPSON from our basketball archive, now one of our best-selling shoes in 2019, would not have been possible without re-entering basketball.
PUMA improved the quality of its distribution and expanded its presence in key sports performance and Sportstyle accounts around the world. We continued to strengthen our relationships with key retailers by being a flexible and service-oriented business partner. By improving sell-through, we further expanded the shelf space given to us in our partners’ retail stores. As sell-through in wholesale improved, we expanded our retail store network and achieved like-for-like sales growth, while registering continued strong growth of our eCommerce business. Furthermore, PUMA upgraded its owned-and-operated retail store network with further refurbishments. On a regional basis, the Asia/Pacific, driven by China, and Americas regions contributed with double-digit increases, while EMEA continued to grow, despite a difficult market environment.
Operationally, we continued to improve infrastructure, processes and systems that are required to support our overall growth ambition. In 2019, a strong focus was put on expanding our logistical network with the project launch of two new multi-channel distribution center initiatives, one in Geiselwind, Germany and one outside of Indianapolis, USA – both are expected to be operational in 2020 and early 2021. Beyond distribution center expansion, PUMA continued to focus on standardization of ERP systems and enhancements of product development tools. This, combined with improvements of the overall IT infrastructure, enables us a faster and better communication and information exchange. PUMA’s global trading entity (PUMA International Trading GmbH - PIT), which manages global order and invoice flows centrally, has extended its scope in order to support streamlining transactional processes and ensuring faster lead times for growing markets and allowing us to come one step closer to our mantra of being “Forever Faster”. In sourcing, the long-term collaboration with suppliers remains the key component of our sourcing strategy to ensure a stable sourcing base, consistent quality of our products and being well prepared for changes in the trade environment.
In addition to our business priorities, social, economic and environmental sustainability remains a core value for PUMA. In 2019, we delivered our 10FOR20 sustainability targets and developed our next set of sustainability targets for 2025, with a renewed focus on increasing the amount of sustainable products. In addition, we continued our leading role at the Fashion Charter for Climate Action under the umbrella of UN Climate and signed the Fashion Pact. The Fashion Pact is a global coalition of companies in the fashion and textile industry, along with suppliers and distributors, all committed to a common core of environmental goals in three areas: stopping global warming, restoring biodiversity and protecting the oceans. The Pact was launched at the 2019 G7 summit in France. Our long-standing social compliance program has been supplemented by the aspect of a more responsible procurement policy and has been recognized by the renewed accreditation by the Fair Labor Association.